Raipur: The Chhattisgarh government Thursday rolled out its much-talked-about Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana (RGKNY), through which it will directly transfer Rs 10,000 per acre a year to the bank accounts of farmers.
The launch coincides with the death anniversary of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, which falls on 21 May.
On Thursday, the state government transferred the first instalment of Rs 1,500 crore into the bank accounts of 19 lakh farmers through the Direct Beneficiary Transfer (DBT) method. It then had a small launch event that was attended by interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi through a video conference hosted on Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel’s Facebook page.
The event was also tweeted by Rahul Gandhi.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 21, 2020
Speaking at the launch, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said 90 per cent of the beneficiaries will be small and marginal farmers of the state, a majority of whom are scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward communities. Baghel also said that the government has made an exception for sugarcane farmers, who will get an annual one-time payment of Rs 13,000 an acre.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who had envisaged a similar Nyay scheme ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, said the Chhattisgarh government has shown the rest of India on how to help the poor and downtrodden in the time of a crisis such as Covid-19.
Scheme for farmers who sell produce to government
According to the scheme, farmers will be paid at the rate of Rs 10,000 per acre of land holding with respect to the crop that the state government procured during the 2019-20 Kharif season.
The scheme so far covers only paddy, maize and sugarcane but the chief minister has said that will be extended to a number of other crops.
Officials in the state agriculture department told ThePrint that farmers will be paid a net amount proportionate to the quantity of crop procured from them.
To arrive at how much each farmer will be paid, the government has set a metric of 15 quintals of crop yield per acre of farmland. For every 15 quintals that the government procures from a farmer, it will pay that farmer Rs 10,000 a year.
So in effect, a farmer who sells 45 quintals of crop to the government will be deemed to have three acres, even if the farmer doesn’t own that much land, and will be paid Rs 30,000 a year.
Even for farmers with less than an acre of land, the payment will be based on procurement and will be proportionate. For instance, a farmer who owns less than an acre but sells 7.5 quintals to the government will be eligible for a one-time payment of Rs 5,000 a year.
The first installment, however, is only for paddy procurement.
Scheme to cost govt Rs 5,700 crore
The scheme will cost the state exchequer Rs 5,700 crore.
It was finalised in a cabinet meeting chaired by the chief minister on 13 May. This was after a state-level committee, constituted during the budget session in February to look at ways of paying farmers the remaining cost of paddy procured, submitted its report.
According to state Agriculture Minister Ravindra Choubey, farmers who have registered with the state government in the 2019 kharif season, are eligible for the Rs 10,000 per acre.
“Around 18.35 lakh farmers will be provided Rs 1500 crore as first installment for paddy crop,” he said. “Of these, 9.54 lakh beneficiaries are marginalised farmers, 5.60 lakh are small farmers and 3.21 lakh are large farmers,” he said.
The decision is significant as the Chhattisgarh Congress in its 2018 state assembly elections manifesto promised to procure paddy from the farmers at Rs 2,500 per quintal for two different varieties — thick and slender — of the crop. The Minimum Support Price (MSP) of the two paddy varieties are Rs 1,815 and Rs 1,835 respectively.
However, during the paddy procurement season between December 2019 and February 2020, the Baghel government paid only MSP amounts to farmers and not the additional benefits of Rs 685 and Rs 665 respectively.
The chief minister himself had constituted the special state-level committee to see how farmers could be paid the extra money. On the recommendation of the committee, the state government has decided to pay the additional amount through the RGKNY.
RGKNY a gimmick, says opposition BJP
The opposition BJP has, however, termed the scheme as a political gimmick.
Talking to ThePrint, former Chhattisgarh chief minister and BJP national vice-president, Raman Singh, alleged that the state government is trying to cheat the farmers with a “partial financial doleout”.
“On one hand, the state government is grappling with the Corona crisis while on the other, it is again on the path of betraying farmers by not making a one-time payment for paddy procurements,” Singh said.
“The state government had promised a one-time payment of Rs 2,500 per quintal of paddy for farmers. This included the MSPs of Rs 1,815 and Rs 1,835 as set by the central government. It, however, only paid MSP costs and not the additional promised benefits. Rather it continued buying time and even today, it is only paying one fourth of the promised amount. This not the ‘Kisan Nyay Yojana but Kisan Anyayay Yojana (not justice for the farmers scheme but injustice to the farmers).”